At American Czestochowa
“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14)
On Christmas Day we celebrate one of the greatest mysteries of our faith – the Incarnation of God, who out of His great love for us, came down on Earth and took on the human nature, as an infant.
We have celebrated this joyful fact at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, PA. We began our celebrations on December 24th with the Christmas Vigil Mass at 5 PM in English. About 2 000 people have participated during this Mass, filling our beautifully decorated Church. Fr. Edward Volz, the Director of the Shrine, was the Main Celebrant of this Solemnity. In His homily He reminded all of us, that the new born Savior came into the World not as a political Messiah but a spiritual one.
— “With the world as it is today, we no longer can be just Christmas and Easter people, we have to be totally Christian, for every Sunday we celebrate both – Christmas and Easter in Word and Sacrament. Christmas is a time of renewal of faith and love of the Father, who sent his Son, so that we can live in the spirit and overcome our fallen nature” – Fr. Volz said.
The Polish speaking community gathered at the Shrine for the traditional “Shepherd’s Mass” at midnight. About 1 000 people came for this Mass from few different states, such as New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvannia. The Main Celebrant of the Midnight Mass was Fr. Tadeusz Lizinczyk, the newly elected Provincial of the Pauline Order in USA. In His homily, Fr. Provincial pointed out few contrasts, present in the liturgy during this night – darkness and light, love of God and indifference of men.
—“We have gathered here in this Church during the night, in order to see the light. It is the night that shows us how much we need the light. During the night we see that without the light we cannot find a way. That is why Jesus Christ comes as a contrast, as the light during the night. He comes as the light for those, whose night is a sin. (…) But tonight we can see more contrasts. In the Gospel there is a contrast between love, which God brough to humanity through the birth of Jesus Christ, and on the other hand, we can there is indifference, rejection, and no room for the Holy Family. And yet, the love, that Jesus Christ brought, always comes” – Fr. Lizinczyk reminded us.
After the celebrations The Pauline Fathers and Brothers met with the faithful in the Cafeteria where they shared“Christmas Wafer” (“Opłatek”).
Fr. Timothy Tarnacki OSPPE
Fr. Timothy Tarnacki OSPPE
When you arrive at the Shrine after dark, there is no way that you can miss amazing and spectacular Christmas lights. About 85 000 lights have been used this year to decorate and to light the outdoor grounds of the Shrine, starting from the entrance, to the Church and the Monastery.
There is also a Nativity scene almost in every chapel of the Shrine. In the Main Church, which has been beautifully decorated with flowers and Christmas trees, since about four years there has been a Nativity scene with moving statues. It is made up of about 40 moving statues, imported from Italy, in the Neapolitan style. There are figures of the Holy Family, angels, shepherds, three Kings, as well as ordinary people doing their daily work. They all form a little town, in which the Savior is being born.
A unique atmosphere can also be felt in the Barn Chapel at the cemetery. That wooden chapel made out of a barn marked the beginning of the American Czestochowa over 60 years ago. The statues used in the Nativity scene in the Barn Chapel are original figures, which were used during the first Christmases in 1950s.
There is one more Nativity scene that one should definately notice at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa – a live Nativity scene with animals. Just like every year, it has been displayed under the main stairs of the Church. Besides the statues of the Holy Family, shepherds and kings, one can see in it few animals, such as: sheep, goats, rabbits and chickens.
The Pauline Fathers and Brothers invite everyone to visit the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa during the Christmas season in order to celebrate together the joy from the birth of Christ.